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MBB Notches 64-59 Road Win at NC State

by Alex Schwartz

RALEIGH, N.C. – Behind a game-high 24 points from sophomore guard Isaiah Wong, the University of Miami men’s basketball team edged NC State, 64-59, Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena.

The Hurricanes used outstanding defense to hold the Wolfpack to just 37.9 percent (22-of-58) shooting and register their first ACC triumph of the year despite trailing by four with under four minutes left.

In addition, the decision moved Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga past Hall of Famer John Wooden on the all- wins list.

“I’m really proud of the guys for recognizing how important details are,” Larrrañaga said. “When we did things correctly, we really played well, but sometimes we get distracted or we don’t focus as well. These guys are playing an incredible amount of minutes because we just don’t have a deep enough bench [due to injuries] to give them adequate rest.”

NC State (6-3, 2-2 ACC) used an early 10-0 burst to jump out to a 14-6 lead, but the Hurricanes quickly began to chip away. Miami (5-5, 1-4 ACC) trimmed the deficit to one on six occasions over the final 10 minutes of the half, but could not pull even or surge ahead.

The Wolfpack, buoyed by a 15-2 advantage in second-chance points, went into the intermission with a 32-31 edge.

Miami, however, finally got over the hump early in the second half, as it held NC State without a point for a span of 4:26, during which it used a 7-0 run to go in front, 40-36, with 16:54 to play.

After the Hurricanes upped their lead to five with 13:09 on the clock, their offense went cold and failed to score over a 7:33 period, during which NC State logged a 11-0 burst to take a 51-45 edge with 6:20 remaining.

Miami once again battled back, though, and took a 56-54 lead on a contested, driving layup by Wong with 1:52 to go. Freshman guard Earl Timberlake doubled the lead on a pair of free throws 44 seconds later, making it an 8-0 surge by the Hurricanes in 2:40 of action.

NC State cut it to 58-57 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Thomas Allen with 57 seconds left before a Timberlake tip-in with 29 seconds to play upped the advantage back to three. After grabbing a defensive rebound, the former top-40 recruit then hit two more free throws with 17 ticks left to make it 62-57.

Wong added two more free throws 10 seconds later to ice the game, giving the Hurricanes a 14-3 run to close the game before a Wolfpack basket just before the buzzer.

“To execute like we did at the end of the game when they are that tired and being pressed for 40 minutes, and to still be able to make their free throws, get the rebounds and play defense the way we did was really great,” Larrañaga said.

Along with his 24 points, which came on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor, Wong added a team-best nine rebounds and co-game-high three steals, the latter mark tying a career best. Timberlake finished with a career-high 13 points while playing through foul trouble.

Allen paced NC State with 14 points and went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, while redshirt senior forward DJ Funderburk had 12 points and redshirt senior guard Devon Daniels chipped in 11 points. Redshirt sophomore forward Manny Bates added nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Hurricanes outshot NC State on field goals, 3-pointers and free throws to earn the road victory, despite conceding 16 offensive rebounds and grabbing just six of their own.

Larrañaga now has 665 victories in his coaching career, good for sole possession of No. 36 all-time among coaches with at least 10 years of Division I experience, passing Wooden, a 10-time NCAA champion.

“From the time I started following college basketball in the 60’s, I was a big fan of John Wooden. My first season as a head coach at AIC, we ran all of UCLA’s offenses and defenses,” Larrañaga said. “I had the utmost respect, not only for his basketball coaching, but his leadership style. I felt like he was a tremendous role model for all coaches. I certainly don’t compare myself or anything about what he accomplished because he was, in my mind, the best college coach of all-time.”

“He’s got 10 NCAA championships, he could’ve easily coached another 10 or 15 years … but he gave it up at 65; I’m 71 and still coaching,” Larrañaga continued. “He’s a great role model. I hope I’m a great role model for my players.”

Miami resumes its road trip Tuesday at 7 p.m. when it squares off with Boston College, live on RSN, at Silvio O. Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

To keep up with the University of Miami men’s basketball team on social media, follow @CanesHoops on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The 2020-21 Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball season is presented by First National Bank.

– The Hurricanes moved to 12-15 all-time against NC State, including 5-8 on the road and 8-8 in Larrañaga’s tenure.
– Miami is now 3-1 in its last four road games versus the Wolfpack, dating back to 2/4/17.
– Larrañaga, who entered the game tied for the 10th-most victories of any active Division I coach, is now 665-452 in 37 years as a head coach, including 195-118 in 10 seasons at Miami.
– In addition to Wooden, Larrañaga also broke a tie with Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger on the all-time wins list.
– For the second time this season, Miami used a starting lineup of Timberlake, Wong, sophomore guard Harlond Beverly, redshirt senior center Nysier Brook and freshman forward Matt Cross.
– Miami once again played without all four of its returning starters: senior guard Chris Lykes (left ankle), redshirt senior guard Kameron McGusty (right hamstring), redshirt senior center Rodney Miller Jr. (right knee, season) and redshirt senior forward Sam Waardenburg (left foot, season).
– The Hurricanes improved to 10-30 in ACC play in Larrañaga’s tenure when just two players score in double figures.
– The Wolfpack’s 59 points were 10 fewer than their prior lowest total in a game this season.
– Miami held NC State without a field goal for a span of 4:46 in the first half, including without a point for the final 2:43 of that stretch.
– Both teams had 11 made field goals (Miami on 26 attempts, NC State on 27) and six made free throws (Miami on eight attempts, NC State on six) in the opening 20 minutes, but the Wolfpack connected on one additional 3-pointer.
– The Hurricanes allowed exactly 32 points in the first half for the third consecutive game and fourth time overall this year.
– Senior guard Elijah Olaniyi eclipsed 500 rebounds as a collegian.
– Wong eclipsed 1,000 minutes played, 400 points, 150 rebounds and 100 made free throws at Miami, as well as reached 50 assists.
– Wong scored in double figures for the 19th time, including the ninth in 2020-21, as well as logged 20-plus points for the eighth time, including the fifth in 2020-21.
– In addition, Wong tied his career high in ACC play with eight made field goals, matching the mark he set at eighth-ranked Florida State on 2/8/20.
– Timberlake tallied double-digit points for the fourth time in five collegiate outings.
– Cross surpassed 250 minutes played in his young career.